Maturing in the Fire

Firey trials1“Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD.”  (Malachi 3:1-3 RSVA)

The whole concept of fiery trials being necessary to make us mature individuals has, for the most part, been lost on a generation whose parents cut their teeth on Timothy Leary’s teaching of “If it feels good, do it” and Dr. Benjamin Spock’s seditious book on  raising children without firm correction when they needed it,” least we hurt their little psyches.” Thinking ourselves wise, we have become a nation of fools. In the book of Hebrews we read:

And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?– “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11 RSVA)

When was the last time you heard a pulpiteer preach from this text or an educator stress the need for discipline in the classroom?

When I was a teenager my parents made me be home by 9 PM and I hated it. I was complaining about it to one of my buddies who had no curfew imposed on him and said, “I wish I had parents like yours and was free to come home when I wanted.” To this he responded something that blew my mind. He said, “At least you KNOW that your parents love you!”

I remember in the early 70’s after coming to Christ, I started going through trials after a fantastic honeymoon period with Jesus being closer in my daily life than I ever knew possible. I wondered why these trials… what had I done? Was God mad at me? It was then I discovered that God uses the personal cross to correct us and to straighten our paths. Then after many months of trials I noticed one day that I had not gone through any for a couple of weeks. All of a sudden I felt insecure and wondered if God was no longer my Father. I had come to see that His chastisement of me was really a sign of His love and that I was NOT illegitimate, but a son.

The trials have continued through the years and often they were very grievous. I shared some of them with a church lady one time and she responded by saying, “I don’t know why you are STILL a Christian!” I am still a follower of Christ because we share a common Father.

“Although he [Jesus] was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”
(Hebrews 5:8-9 RSVA)

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9 comments on “Maturing in the Fire

  1. Hello Brother
    Father Son intimacy is the central experience of our walk. Meaning, Father Daughter also, of course. I had a Dad who seemed to have very little capacity to express love. I starved for it and my growing up was characterized by the word “agony” emotional agony, that is.

    I have come to believe after many a trials, chastenings, scourgings, and incredible guidance, that Father desires the Father son relationship that Jesus showed us be the central focus. I’ve grown to know that what He as our Awesome Father does toward us, what He has in His mind toward us, is well being, so gloriously magnificent, words cannot express this kind of love.

    I have been very close to physical death a few times, once so close I had a vision of being in hell as I was on the operating table. My Father will do anything, let anything happen, even cause it to happen, to keep me close, into His son-ship intimacy.

    Before I was afflicted I went astray, It is good for me that I was afflicted, and that in faithfulness Thou has afflicted me. Psalm 119:67,71,75

    Sadly, many Christians would disagree with me. but, I know my heavenly Father.

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    • Russell, so good to hear from you again. David wrote:

      The righteous cry, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeems the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Psalms 34:17-22 KJ2000)

      I grew up with a father that was there in body, but that was about it. He could not show heart felt affection. He had been through the hell of WW2 in Europe and I think he withdrew inside himself with the help of the bottle to deal with it. He found religion and raise me as a Catholic, but never found the transforming power of a surrendered life IN Christ. Do I judge him for it, not at all. He did the best he could under the circumstances, but like the pastor told me once, “What are you doing under there?” IN Christ we can live above all that the enemy puts us through and come out better for it and even know the joy of the Lord in the process as we look upon His face.

      Like I wrote to Sandra, the cross that Jesus has us each take up is designed, tailor-made, to get us there… one with the Father and the Son in Spirit and walking in truth. Yes, Jesus came to show us what a true Father/Son relationship looks like and then He broke down the walls that separate us from entering into it as we leave-off living in the first Adam and start living IN the Last Adam. It is good to be on the same journey with you my brother.
      Love you IN Him,
      Michael

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  2. Mia says:

    Dear Michael
    Oh, I know so well that until we come to the end of our own resources, we will never learn to deny self and receive everything from God. And then it is only where we begin to allow our Pappa to sever us from all those thought patterns with self as the King, our sins and our idiosyncrasies. I don’t think this process will ever be completed on this side of eternity. But all praise to Jesus who saves us from the one moment to the next with His saving Life (Rom 5:10). No one can live the Christian life; not you, neither me. Only our Resurrected Lord can and He does that daily only as we allow Him to live His life in and through us.
    Much love XX
    Mia

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    • Mia, I just finished writing this to a friend who has noticed that our walk in Christ is a continual “morphing” from one spiritual understanding to the next…

      It is written, “Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain…” (Hosea 6:3 KJV). And Jesus put it this way, “To him (Christ) the gatekeeper opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4 KJ2000).

      It is in hearing His voice and not being content with the voice of strangers that we are members of HIS flock and that we “follow on to know” everything that He has for us in each stage of our spiritual lives. He is also the “door” and it is by HIM that we come in and out and find pasture (John 10:9). There is true freedom in Christ as long as we keep Him at the center of our lives. If we put a mere man in His place (no matter what his clerical title may be) we will cease to have the freedom we need to follow our Shepherd. This lesson takes most of us a good part of our lives to learn. Keep following on to know, my dear sister and thanks for sharing your life in Him with us.
      Michael

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  3. Pat Orr says:

    I have just read your reply to me on the Feb. 9 post. Thank you. I am not there, but encouraged that it is still the Father’s best. On the discipline of the Lord, I hope that I will rejoice in the Lord in the midst of suffering. However, I don’t claim that either.

    I hope that I am not a spoiled child. However, I know that He is not the author of spoiled children, but of mature saints. I keep pressing into Him.

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    • Pat, the thing that encourages me is that He knows our end from the beginning. He calls those things which are not as though they are and He does not judge us while we are trashing around, but does what He needs to to get us there for He is the Author AND the Finisher of our faith. It is all by His marvelous grace that we are being conformed into the image of His Son. What a fantastic salvation we have IN the Christ! Yes, keep pressing INTO Him and He will do the rest.

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  4. Hosea Fwangmun says:

    Mike, I believe that this post is for me…because I need to hear this now…sometimes in a bit to deny the chastening of the Lord we resort to finding a cheap “solution” on our own and at times we get through with it, but guest what? After that I will realize that I just lost a golden opportunity to GROW into Him. Oh! that FATHER will help me to learn to PASS THROUGH whatever He allows my way…and thanks for speaking DADDY’S mind to me in our last chart because my mind is being renewed as I “…receive with meekness the engrafted word that is able to save my soul”…agape

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    • Hosea,
      So glad to hear your heart on this matter of trials and testing. Peter wrote, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ… Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:7-9 KJ2000). The salvation of our souls is when we come to the end of living by the power of our souls (what Paul calls “our old man”). Brother, I am afraid that much of Africa has been given a false gospel, one that says we are saved simply by saying a “sinner’s prayer” at an “altar call.” Saving faith not only deals with our sins, but saves us from ourselves! We are transported out of the First Adam and put INTO the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. Or like Paul put it, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

      And consider this verse…

      “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10 KJ2000)

      Did you get that? We are reconciled to God by Jesus’ death, but we are SAVED by HIS Life in us. “For me to live IS Christ and to die is gain.”

      Love you my brother,
      Michael

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      • Hosea Fwangmun says:

        “For if, when we were
        enemies, we were reconciled
        to God by the death of his
        Son, much more, being
        reconciled, we shall be saved
        by his life.” (Romans 5:10
        KJ2000)

        I got that brother… WE SHALL BE SAVED BY HIS LIFE…thanks a lot Michael… I love you too…agape 🙂

        Like

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